Cookbook Review — 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous


Lisa Leake cookbook

When I flip through Lisa Leake’s second cookbook, “100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous,” I can’t help but think of my own kitchen, my own cooking and my own website’s stash of favorite recipes.

Like in Lisa’s house, there are no natural flavors in my cabinets, my family knows which snack cracker boasts five or fewer ingredients, nearly all the fruits and veggies on our table were dug from nearby dirt — either our garden or a local farm.

Even Lisa’s story mirrors my own. Six years ago she saw real-food champion Michael Pollan speak and it rerouted her life. For me, the year was 2006 and the game-changer was Barbara Kingsolver and her memoir of a year of eating local, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.”

Where Lisa’s and my paths can diverge is in their pace. I count myself a member of the Slow Food movement. I garden and bake and cook from scratch, yes for the nutritional value this provides my family, but also for the joy of the work, the beauty of the creating. That’s the Meryl-Streep-stars-as-me version of my life, anyway.

In the down-and-dirty day-to-day, though, I am a mother of three kids who range in age from 15 to 9. My reality is afternoons sprinting from cross country practice to ballet lessons to swim meets, with a dash to the grocery store thrown in. And while two or three of the six or seven dinners I put on the table each week might be beautiful, sumptuous meals, for the other four or five, “fast” and maybe not-so-“fabulous” is a more-apt description.

So let me be among the first to say that Lisa’s book (for sale beginning Oct. 25, preorder your own copy here) is an important resource for any parent trying to feed her children healthful, wholesome meals. Her breakdown of what is real food and what is processed (it’s more complicated than you think) are easy-to-understand and easy to commit to following.

You know what else I love about this cookbook? The recipes are for foods my family will eat … and love. She offers up how-tos for many dishes that are go-tos in our house: corn bread, coleslaw, roasted potatoes, smoothies, muffins, granola, veggie pasta, stuffed peppers. She even has recipes for make-your-own chocolate sauce and ice cream — fun, kid-friendly foods that she’s stirring up without the chemicals and additives that are all but unavoidable in the store-bought versions.

Many of today’s most popular recipes and cookbooks feature beautiful, creative dishes that simply take too long to make on a busy weeknight or would never be welcomed on my children’s plates. While I love to drool over those push-the-limits foods, it’s Lisa’s book that I’ll be coming back to week after week for my meal planning.

So while Lisa is calling her collection “fast and fabulous,” what she really means is doable. If you’re ready for some inspiration for how to ditch processed food or simply some variation on what you’re doing now, “100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous” is a great add to your cookbook shelf.

Want a sneak preview? Click here for her Asian Rice Noodle Salad recipe.

Lisa chose me as one of her “Cookbook Ambassadors,” meaning she sent a free cookbook for me to review and cook from before it was published.